By Isaac J. Martin
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Nov 13 (EFE).- Vanuatu’s president Nikenike Vurobaravu believes Europe’s quest for fossil fuels to help overcome the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine is endangering the security of the South Pacific region.
During an interview with Efe at the Cop27 Climate Summit in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, Vurobaravu says that war in Ukraine is of significant security importance for Europe, yet in the Pacific, climate change supercedes all other priorities.
Vanuatu, with a population of more than 300,000, is an island-nation located in the South Pacific that is suffering one of the worst climate change impacts, together with other islands in the regions such as Kiribati and Tuvalu.
Vurobaravu says that category five cyclones have become the new normal there, adding “there are people whose life has been devastated by this.”
Besides cyclones, rising sea levels threaten with permanently flooding these South Pacific islands.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has “exposed the profound risks of our fossil fuel addiction,” the United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned earlier this week, adding that the world’s crises cannot be used as an “excuse for backsliding or greenwashing.”
Vanuatu has been leading a campaign that other sinking islands have endorsed to get the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an advisory opinion on the right to be protected from climate change.
These islands are focusing on human rights issues to demand justice and ensure that states are forced to abide by the law, according to Vurobaravu.
An ICJ ruling in favor of Vanuatu could set a legal precedent that could be used in any court.
But for the principal judicial body of the UN to adopt a resolution, it would need the UN General Assembly’s 97 states to vote in favor.
According to the president, the vote could take place between late December and early January.
Vanuatu has joined an international call to prevent the expansion of fossil fuels, which would phase out the use of coal, oil and gas.
Vurobaravu has come to Cop27 to look for another toolbox to revive the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
The leader of the Pacific nation stresses that the climate-related loss and damage, which refers to the compensation the poorest countries get from the developed nations for the damage caused by climate change, is not his “priority”.
Nations have an obligation to protect the human rights of people and the environment, Vurobaravu concludes.EFE